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Father of the Prius recalls the early program and its challenges

Takeshi Uchiyamada is an important figure at Toyota. Not only is he the chairman of the automaker, but he is also considered to be the father of the Prius. The Toyota Prius has been the most popular hybrid in the world since its introduction over a decade ago.
 
Uchiyamada recently indicated that there is nowhere to go but up for hybrid production/sales. "I foresee hybrid models pretty soon reaching 20 percent of global sales from about 13 percent to 14 percent now," said Uchiyamada.
 
Hybrid vehicles remain a niche market as improving fuel economy for traditional vehicles has improved significantly making the value of a hybrid less defined.


Toyota FT-Bh concept
 
Sales of hybrid vehicles rose 40% in Europe last year reaching 214,237 units (that is still less than the number of Toyota Prii sold in the United States last year). That tally gives hybrid vehicles under 2% of the overall European auto market. To boost that market share, many automakers are working to reduce the price of the battery packs and other hybrid components.
 
Toyota is preparing to launch its next generation Prius within the next year. The company is hoping for at least an 8% fuel efficiency gain compared to the current generation vehicle.

Source: Autonews



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Weird Toyota!
By FaaR on 3/13/2014 11:11:12 AM , Rating: 3
For ten years now they've been building these cars, and still no diesel option, despite the immediate and obvious gains that would have given them in fuel consumption. Maybe this time they will finally come to their senses...




RE: Weird Toyota!
By Spuke on 3/13/2014 12:07:02 PM , Rating: 2
No one will pay the premium for a diesel hybrid. That's why they haven't made one.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By FaaR on 3/13/2014 12:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
Just like nobody pays premium for ordinary ICE diesel cars vs. petrol? Please!


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Nutzo on 3/13/2014 12:41:23 PM , Rating: 3
People will pay a premium for Diesel or a premium for a Hybrid, each generally about $3,000. Very few people would be willing pay a dual premium ($6,000?).

Most hybrids run the ICE using the Atkinson cycle, which is more efficient than a normal ICE engine. This eliminates much of the mileage advantage they would get by also going with diesel.

Just look at 2 similar sized cars. The Toyota Camry Hybrid is rated at 38MPG on the highway, and the Jetta TDI diesel is rated at 42. Really not that much of a difference.
On the several longer trips I’ve taken in my Camry Hybrid, I’ve averaged in the mid 40’s on the highway. Noticably better than the ratings.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By ChronoReverse on 3/13/2014 1:25:32 PM , Rating: 2
Especially since diesel costs more than gasoline now it's especially true.

Up here in Canadaland, diesel is like $1.50/L while gasoline is $1.35/L


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Samus on 3/13/2014 10:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
It's primarily the diesel fuel costs that keep diesel hybrids off the market, especially in the USA.

But it's also additional maintenance, weight, NVR, emissions BS, and diminishing returns compared to cost. I'd be surprised if a diesel hybrid could best a petrol hybrid in city driving (where hybrids are most effective) because diesels can't run the miller combustion cycle because they can't "time" their detonation with a spark (although there is some diesel technology that incorporate spark plugs) and the start-stop cycles will cause additional wear and harshness.

They will have to get very creative with diesel technology to actually make it work. I know Fiat and some others have diesel hybrids but they are not well received. BMW discontinued there's after one year on sale. The problem is in order to eliminate a lot of the NVH and wear issues associated with constant start-stop when transitioning to battery power, the compression ratio has to be dropped (down to 13:1, or lower) in order to meet the expectations of someone not used to diesel engines.

The last point is diesels are really good enough on their own. They are VERY efficient at idle. Not as efficient as an electric motor (which uses zero power) but a Golf TDI will burn a coffee-cup amount of fuel an hour idling.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By JediJeb on 3/14/2014 5:37:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the compression ratio has to be dropped (down to 13:1, or lower) in order to meet the expectations of someone not used to diesel engines.


At 13:1 that would be almost perfect for an LPG engine.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Flunk on 3/13/2014 1:10:20 PM , Rating: 2
Depends where you live, diesels are popular in Europe but very scarce in the US.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Spuke on 3/13/2014 2:32:15 PM , Rating: 2
There's quite a few regular diesels now but they're mostly premium makes. Look at the only diesel hybrid on the market, the Volvo V60. Base price on that is $81,000 USD. Like another poster said, the premium for both would be at least $6000 plus the additional equipment that would be made standard because now you've moved that car into a higher price category where people expect certain features for the money.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By sigmatau on 3/13/2014 5:12:29 PM , Rating: 2
There are already loud complainers on the fact that hybrids cost more than a standard car, even if the hybrid will recoup that extra initial cost within a few years. A diesel addition will only add to that length of time to recoup the extra initial cost by at least 100%.

A current Toyota Prius that starts at about $24k would instead be priced closer to $28k if not more.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By marvdmartian on 3/13/2014 3:52:25 PM , Rating: 2
A big problem with introducing any diesel in this country, has been the use of ultra-low sulfur fuel, which many of the diesels in Asia and Europe simply couldn't burn. Heck, talk to diesel owners here, in the USA, and most of them will fondly recall the old days (even the low sulfur diesel days, before we went, "ultra-low"), and curse the newer fuel.

As diesel engine technology advances, I'm sure we'll first see more diesel engine options on vehicles (like the new Ram pickup truck), THEN someone who will be willing to try it on a hybrid.

Then the only problem will be making a diesel hybrid that gets BETTER mileage than its gasoline counterpart, to help offset the difference in price between the two fuels.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Mint on 3/13/2014 4:22:49 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know where you're getting this from. Europe has long had lower sulfur diesel than the US:
http://www.ifqc.org/NonMemberContentDetails.aspx?T...
http://www.ifqc.org/GeneralDownloadFile.aspx?Conte...

quote:
All EU countries placed within the top 50; nearly 100% market penetration of 10 ppm (or "sulfur free") diesel is expected in the EU in 2009


ULSD in the US today is 15 ppm, and well below 100%.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Spuke on 3/13/2014 4:32:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
ULSD in the US today is 15 ppm, and well below 100%.
Are you sure about that (the below 100% part)? You can't sell diesel in the US without it being ULSD. It was mandated back in 2006. And I think that was completed in 2010.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Mint on 3/14/2014 1:52:58 PM , Rating: 2
You are correct, and I was wrong. It was well below 100% when they first started with these regulations in 2006, but now it's all ULSD.

Still, there's no basis for saying Europe has higher sulfur in its diesel, either today or the last 5 years.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By sigmatau on 3/13/2014 5:07:46 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know where you are getting your information from either, but we had low sulfur diesel requirement before Europe. That is why Mercedes and all couldn't sell here for a year or two.

It was mandated in the US starting with 2007 models by the EPA. Refineries had to make at least 80% of their diesel as 15 PPM sulfur in 2006. Europe only had a similar mandate in 2009. Some European diesel cars were banned from the US until they could process this diesel which took most manufactures 1-2 years to comply.

This is why Mercedes started using urea in the US.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Mint on 3/14/2014 1:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
Europe hit near 100% ULSD in 2009. It didn't happen overnight or without warning. Most European diesel engines have been running on ULSD for a long time.

Anyway, let's get back to the main point: A couple years of regulation delay in EU vs US isn't the cause of the massive difference in diesel presence among cars for sale. It's a non factor, and for at least 6 years, Europe had less sulfur in its diesel.

That runs counter to marvdmartian's assertion.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By sigmatau on 3/14/2014 11:26:54 PM , Rating: 2
You are right. Europe now has a higher standard than the US for sulfur at 10ppm vs. 15ppm.

I have no clue why we don't have more diesels in the United States myself. I am guessing that diesel is closer to the price of gas in Europe, even though the 10% or so difference in the US isn't that much. We also had some extremely gross examples of them in the 70s and 80s, so maybe the public is turned off by them.

What do you think?


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Philippine Mango on 3/13/2014 4:44:41 PM , Rating: 2
Diesel is not only more expensive and more difficult to come by, but there is an actual shortage of it. Diesel vehicles are difficult to make run clean and are expensive. Toyota's strengths are in its gasoline powered vehicles. Toyota is going to be using the Skyactiv engines from Mazda which bring gasoline closer to diesel like efficiency without the emission problems inherent with diesel engines. The ultimate goal should be free valve engines and HCCI operation which would make the utilization of diesel engines completely irrelevant.

One thing people constantly forget about diesel fuel economy is that diesel fuel holds 30% more energy so it's not as efficient as people think it is.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Mint on 3/14/2014 2:03:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Diesel is not only more expensive and more difficult to come by, but there is an actual shortage of it.

I don't know why diesel advocates are so oblivious to this. Most of the worlds refineries are already maximizing how much diesel they get from a barrel of oil, and it'll cost a lot to covert the US refineries to do the same.

Diesel is a dead end as a solution to efficiency or fuel cost, unless the biodiesel fairytale comes to fruition. I hope it does, but I'm not holding my breath.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Reclaimer77 on 3/13/2014 4:45:23 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't YOU come to your senses? Pretty sure if Toyota thought diesel was the way to go, they would use it.

But yeah you're right, they should switch to a more expensive engine design that uses a more expensive fuel, for probably NO significant benefit to the buyer.

Oh and let's not forget how "clean" diesel is. Nothing says "Green" like a car that bellows out nitrogen oxide and sulfur in large amounts compared to regular gas.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Bad-Karma on 3/13/2014 9:04:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but you know the best part about that smoke?

I'm a pretty considerate driver and will go out of my way to accommodate others. But if you're a jerk to me then I'll be one back. So when I have some little clown car following me so close that I can't find them in any of my mirrors, I'll tap the brakes to give em a warning. Often times all I can make out is a bare sliver of the roof of their car over my tailgate (and the truck isn't raised). If they don't back off then the next step will make you pay for being too close.

I've got a butterfly valve (switch in the cab) on my crank case ventilation port. Once opened it allows the vacuum from the turbos to pull in the oil mist from the crank case.

When I'm in my F550 and get a tailgater (and it is usually the hyper-milers and or hybrids) I flip that switch, turn on the propane, and dump the throttle. They get a nice big black soot stripe right down the top of their vehicle. And it is a thick oily soot too, Washers and wipers only smear it. You've got to do a full up wash to get that stuff of.

They seldom get that close twice....


RE: Weird Toyota!
By PaFromFL on 3/14/2014 9:53:32 AM , Rating: 2
I hope you're joking. If you try that in FL, you'll probably wind up on the wrong end of a tire iron or .357 Smith & Wesson.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Bad-Karma on 3/14/2014 10:52:15 AM , Rating: 2
I am a Florida resident, and it is a Florida licensed vehicle. Though I am currently stationed in Ohio. Though I tend to travel quite a bit.

Like I said, I'm one of the more considerate drivers out there, and I'll give you a fair warning, sometimes even a second.

But I'd like to see someone try your situation, my sidearm is always at my side. However, most people tend to think twice when they are confronted by a .45 Sig (P220) held by a Federal officer.

So the question becomes: Does this upset you because you are one of the described tailgaters? Or are you just blowing smoke yourself?


RE: Weird Toyota!
By PaFromFL on 3/14/2014 4:38:00 PM , Rating: 2
That you are a federal officer explains your contempt for "lesser" citizens. My comments are based on road rage reports in the local news. There is enough tension in modern life already, and it is stupid to purposely add to it.


RE: Weird Toyota!
By Bad-Karma on 3/14/2014 5:22:42 PM , Rating: 2
Contempt for lesser citizens? I think you need to step back a bit, you don't know me. But for you to think that the job I perform to help pursue the peace gives me an aura of contempt, then that is wellspring of ignorance on your part.

Tailgating is invariably dangerous and is illegal in every state. So you think that by giving a warning and then teaching them a bit about the hazards they are undertaking is "adding Stress". Go ahead and live in fear of your fellow man. I choose not to.

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force . If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

People who tend to road rage forget that their use of aggressive force can have dire consequences for themselves. Perhaps we as a species tend to forget that the Darwinian process isn't as far removed as we make like to think.


It might happen, but it depends...
By Nagorak on 3/16/2014 5:14:40 AM , Rating: 3
I have to be honest, at this point I am not a big believer in hybrids, despite owning one (2001 Honda Insight) for over a decade (or maybe because of owning one). With the improvements in fuel economy we're seeing now in regular ICE cars, the advantage that hybrids have is shrinking.

What it basically comes down to is this: On the highway, a highly efficient gas only car will basically rival a hybrid (in that circumstance the electric motor doesn't do much for you). Meanwhile, for city, or I suppose rush hour highway driving, an electric car is way more efficient than a hybrid is. And even versus a fuel efficient gas only car, the hybrid premium is so high that it will take years for you to make up the cost in fuel.

At this point it looks like to me that if your household owns two cars, you may be better off just getting a fuel efficient ICE car for driving long distances, and combining it with a second electric car for driving around town. The extra cost of hybrids really works against them. For example, the Chevy Volt costs so much that you can basically buy a Nissan Versa and a Nissan Leaf for not much more. The Versa gets just as good highway mileage as the Volt, and the Leaf has a longer electric range than the Volt.




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